This evening, Hugh Gallagher, a branding expert, sent a link to an article
he’d written on the rebranding of the royal family. He has lived in the UK and other parts of the world and has become a branding expert. Here’s how he led into his article:
I’m not traditionally a Royal watcher. But having been based in the UK and Europe for two years while traveling through Europe for Adidas Brand Design, I watched, followed, and understood (as much as an American can) the influence of the British Royal Family. As far as institutions are concerned, this one endures.
Intrigued, I read on.
No other Western institution has maintained value through such a parade of eras. In historical terms, the Catholic Church comes to mind, but systemic child abuse has dealt irreparable brand damage to that behemoth. In modern market terms, Coca Cola has popped through two separate century shifts. That impressive stat goes flat when considering the crisp, refreshing taste of British Monarchy. Coke didn’t struggle to successfully position their brand during the Norman invasion in 1066. The British Crown did, meeting that challenge and managing other market disruptors like the Copernican revolution, abolition of feudalism, the introduction of global maritime trade, electricity, that pair of pesky world wars and other knuckle balls a thousand years of history throws across the plate.
Through this turbulent test, The British royal families have done a breathtakingly efficient job of not only expanding their power base, but managing their Brand. When people around the globe think of Royal Family, England’s current dynastic line of Windsor embodies the concept. That didn’t happen by sitting back and sipping tea. The Crown’s aggressive action, ruthless ambition and brilliant brand management has seen them through pestilence, war, and social upheaval. Today those survival talents are battling with the internet and social media.
Now I was hooked. I hadn’t thought about the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan from the royals as a “brand” challenge. But Hugh makes his case. And by the end of his article – which I encourage you to read through to the end – I realized it perfectly described the current Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn.
In astrology, Saturn is often labeled as the bad guy. The planet governs restrictions, responsibility, karma, all the adult stuff. It also governs structure – without Saturn, we wouldn’t be here. There wouldn’t be any physical universe. Saturn represents the status quo, business as usual, the adage, This is how we do things.
Then there’s Pluto and that whole story about how he abducted Persephone and ferreted her off into the underworld. Pluto is no longer considered a planet by astronomers, hut astrologers ignore it at their own peril. It represents power and profound transformation – death destruction, reincarnation, rebuilding from the ashes. And Capricorn, ruled by Saturn, represents government, structures, doing things in an orderly manner.
Oops. Prince Harry and Meghan broke that tradition. They announced their intent in an Instagram post and all hell broke loose. As Hugh puts it:
In an era where feudal fealty is replaced by mocking memes, and the Royal Family is casually referred to as “The Firm”, their brand faces the same flack any other equity earning entity endures. And when it comes to equity, Brand Royal Family has holdings that dwarf the titans of our time. A 2017 Forbes estimate set their net worth at 88 billion US Dollars. To put that in perspective, Forbes set Nike’s brand value at 15.9 billion, while Adidas, another of the world’s most recognized icons, jogs along with a brand value of 6.8 billion.
Money that large doesn’t sleep. Intensely efficient brain trusts are in place to steer these brands through emerging trends, and project them into profitable futures. An asset base as vast as The Royals possesses similar advisors, trusted to pilot them through choppy cultural tides. Those tides can’t be ignored. Like any highly valued brand with established lineage, The Crown must navigate current events if it wishes to sail the market seas.
And now here they have the rogues, Prince Harry and Meghan, bucking the status quo. They’re the royal family’s Pluto, who with a simply Instagram post, destroyed the structure that had been in place for centuries.
That’s how this Saturn/Pluto conjunction works at an international level. Take notice, Americans. Whose brand has been impugned with the impeachment trial in the senate? How will it all shake out?